"There were dragons when I was a boy... You'll have to take my word for it." So says Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III at the very start of Cressida Cowell's children's fantasy novel How to Train Your Dragon, which was later loosely adapted into a hugely successful animated film by DreamWorks Pictures. Last year's sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, caught up with Hiccup at the latter end of his adolescence, when his adventures with his loyal dragon Toothless reunited him with a long-lost family member and elevated both Hiccup and Toothless to leader status.
Thanks to the wide critical acclaim and healthy box office gross for the first two films, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is on the way with a release date set for summer 2018. How to Train Your Dragon 2 writer and director Dean DeBlois is returning to both roles for the third installment of the series, which features the voice of Jay Baruchel as Hiccup.
Quite a few years passed between How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2, which raises the question of just how old Hiccup will be when he returns to theaters three years from now. To allay concerns that it might feature a middle-aged, grizzled version of the character rather than an enthusiastic youth, however, DeBlois has said in an interview with Collider that the third film will be the "culmination" of Hiccup's coming-of-age story. What does that mean for Hiccup and Toothless, though?
"Both he and Toothless are now chiefs of their respective tribes, and it’s a dueling story where you have both characters trying to do what’s right for their kind, and an eventual outcome where Hiccup is able to stand on his own. We’re gonna take the story to where the books begin, which is Hiccup as an adult reflecting back on a time where there were dragons, suggesting that the dragons will in some way go away. Why and could they come back and the mystery of what all that is will be saved for the actual story."
Parting ways with a childhood friend is a fairly common trope in coming-of-age stories, and perhaps the most poignant example of it in recent animated film history was Toy Story 3, in which Andy is faced with the prospect of going away to college and deciding what to do with all his toys. Released 15 years after the original film, Toy Story 3 was perfectly timed as a tearjerker for people who had watched Toy Story when they were young kids, and were now at a stage in life that involved moving out, going to college, and even having kids of their own. Many tears were shed.
What DeBlois seems to suggest is that How to Train Your Dragon 3 could follow a similar arc by addressing the topic of how and why the dragons begin to disappear, to the point that they are almost all gone by the time Hiccup is an old man. It's worth remembering at this point that DeBlois has said there won't be a How to Train Your Dragon 4, so How to Train Your Dragon 3 could potentially end with Toothless and the other dragons leaving for good.
DeBlois also told Collider that he's currently on page 60 in the screenplay writing process, and that villain Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) will return in How to Train Your Dragon 3 and become "a lot more complex" as a character. Does that mean he'll be a reformed man, or will he return to his evil ways?
How to Train Your Dragon 3 will release on June 29, 2018.